We’re using Nasturtiums in our house this week to help make our food taste good and look pretty, but the question that I hear from people is “why?” What difference does it make HOW your food looks? Isn’t taste the important part?
Well, sure. Taste is a HUGE part of your meals. But it is not the only consideration.
Something as plain and simple as a bowl of oatmeal can look appetizing or unappetizing, depending on how you dress it up. If my kids finally eat oatmeal, I know it’s going to be because it looks like it might taste good. There’s no way they’d be willing to try a bowl with oatmeal just slopped into it. But if I top it with some delicious blueberries, a sprinkle of cinnamon and toasted pecans, and maybe a drizzle of maple syrup, I’m almost willing to bet at least one of them would be willing to give it a try. And of course, my ultimate goal is to get both of them eating it.
There are differences of opinion, of course. This is strictly mine. But I find it a fun experiment to play with in our home. My oldest son in particular appreciates how good a food looks before he tells me how it tastes.
Think about the presentation between McDonalds and The Canadian Brewhouse. Both places serve burgers. But one is wrapped sloppily in a paper wrapper or cardboard box with fries spilling out of their wrapper on a plastic tray, and the other is plated nicely with a gently arranged salad or interestingly wrapped fries. They even have their signature Canadian Flag toothpick stuck into the top of the burger. You know which one looks more appealing and which one you’d rather eat, right? Most of the time the difference in price is overlooked because the perceived value is higher, in part due to how it looks when presented.
The next time you serve dinner, consider plating it in a way that makes it look visually appealing. You might be surprised at what your picky people are willing to try if it looks nice.
For an interesting article about this with more viewpoints and discussion, click here.
Have a great day, friends! If you haven't started following me on Facebook yet, please hop over there and "like" my page. I post interesting food and nutrition stuff on a regular basis and I'd hate you to miss out on my test kitchen recipes each Friday!
This week I'm playing with the Thai Basil that I am growing in my herb garden. We're going to run a late #testkitchen this week (today rather than yesterday if all goes well!), making Thai salad rolls for dinner tonight and a Vietnamese noodle soup with chicken and vegetables for dinner tomorrow.
But why bother? Why change to a different kind of basil? Why not stick with the old one that is known and loved?
Over the years I've observed there are 2 basic kinds of eaters in the world: people who can eat the same thing all the time and be perfectly content, and people who want to eat different things all the time and rarely eat the same thing twice. I don't think either extreme is healthy or sustainable. In our family, we encourage a bit of both for a few different reasons:
By now you all are used to me talking about incorporating a variety of different colours into your food but we don't usually emphasize reasons for different flavours. I'm going to hone in on one reason this morning: "...waking up your taste buds".
Raising a family of picky children with a husband who came pretty picky himself has been a journey for us. At the beginning of parenting small children I was completely unprepared for picky eaters. The idea of it was as foreign to me as living in full darkness half a year. When I was a child, if my mom put food in front of me, I ate it. To be suddenly faced with gagging, vomiting, tears, and the rest was bewildering.
However, I firmly believe food should not be a fight. Ever. We determine what foods go on the table so we fully control what response we will get. We can talk more about this a different day.
Suffice it to say, providing different flavours to ourselves and our families can allow us to enjoy different foods while we are out and about at various times in our lives. Like it or not, most of us enjoy meals at places other than home. We can't always control what's for dinner, and so it makes sense to train our taste buds.
And that is it for today, friends. If you enjoyed this post, share it! Help me grow my business by getting my name and brand known! Tune in tomorrow on Facebook for a discussion on reverse meal planning and if you haven't "liked" my page yet, please do so- I don't want you to miss anything!
All the best!
Last week I found out my second son has very low iron. His doctor has requested he start on a supplement, but we're going to have to build up to a full dose. The first day I dosed him with 3/4 of a dose and he had wicked stomach pain, and the day after that for the whole weekend an upset stomach. I *think* that was due to a bug that was making the rounds, but just in case I decided I should slowly introduce it to his system.
He isn't as bad an eater as he used to be, but he eats little amounts, and gets tired of eating. I won't generally force my kids to finish what's on their plates, because they can tell if they're still hungry or satisfied better than I can. I know I fill up quickly, but get hungry often, and we all know our own cues the best. I remember being forced to finish my plate or even to have seconds, and how it made me feel. I won't do that with the boys.
Still, I haven't been very proactive over the last year at making sure there's enough time between his calcium rich foods and his iron rich foods, and about making sure he's actually eating enough iron. He's very much a dairy kid, but some studies have shown that consuming calcium at the same time as iron means that the iron isn't absorbed as well when it comes to short-term. It's also important to plan out a good source of vitamin C to co-mingle with the iron. It helps assure higher iron absorption.
For the last several months our son has been complaining really non-specifically about how he's feeling. "I just feel really terrible" he'll tell us. He'd complain of feeling dizzy, or headache, pain in his legs, and so on. Our doctor sent us home with a blood test requisition and after some schedule juggling we finally have our answer. In part to being a little eater who is also picky, combined with massive growth spurt over the last year, we have this to reconcile.
Common signs of anemia in children (as well as adults) include paleness, weakness, and fatigue. He has great big circles under his eyes and is often tired. He has been prone to frequent infections over the last year- ear infections, throat infections, an eye infection, and plain ordinary colds. Other signs, such as bleeding and sensitive gums and a loss of appetite has also be present. Our doctor suspects that his leg pain and frequent headaches are related to low iron as well. A couple of websites with more information on symptoms and treatment include the Mayo Clinic as well as Children's National.
Our course of treatment will be slow and steady. It's much easier to maintain good iron levels than play catch-up, so I've adopted these rules for our family as a whole. To be honest, I've always tended toward anemia, and I know how terrible he really must have been feeling. 20 years ago I had mono, and my iron count was at a 6- he's at a 9 right now. I remember the exhaustion, dizziness, and overwhelming need to sleep.
The biggest change is making sure there are 2 hours on either side of the iron-rich food that are dairy free. We are spacing out his snacks and meals as best as we can to give his body as much time to absorb iron as possible.
Breakfast includes dairy- a glass of milk and yogurt if he wants it, among whatever else he'd like to eat. I certainly don't want to add calcium deficiency to his life!
Morning snack during the school week is a cheese string (dairy). When he's home from school, morning snack is another opportunity for an iron boost: some apple slices (Vitamin C in one of the few fruits he eats) and some iron-rich cereal such as corn bran or plain cheerios.
Lunch during the school week is a cold little homemade hamburger with apple slices and water, or if we have leftover meat from the dinner before that can easily be cubed up and sent to school to be eaten cold, he'll have those. Always apple slices. We aren't joining the milk program at lunch this year so I can keep dairy away from his lunch break.
After school snack is a peanut butter sandwich with apple juice- there is some iron in peanut butter and bread, though not a large amount.
Dinner is usually another iron-full meal. I try to combine heme with non-heme sources with our dinner as well as other sources of vitamin C besides apples- vegetables, usually, though I often add a couple of different fruits to his dinner plate as well- a strawberry, a few blueberries- to try to get his tastebuds into new flavours.
Bedtime snack incorporates dairy as well, if he wants it, usually a glass of milk or some yogurt.
The biggest challenges for me are remembering what time it is we last ate dairy, and getting dinner ready to eat early enough so he doesn't stay up too late to have a snack. A bedtime snack is a requirement for him because he struggles with an over-production of acid. He's really stepped up to the plate, so to speak, and is trying hard to take his medicine and eat enough of his dinner. He's at the right age to understand cause and effect, so he definitely knows how bad he'll keep feeling if we don't get his iron level higher. We're going to get another blood test early in the new year to confirm that we're going in the right direction.
Iron is tricky, because too much too soon is a problem as well. I'm going with the tortoise and the hare: slow and steady wins the race.
It's also made trickier, because he's somewhat picky. Here are some of the common and best sources of iron. The ones he'll eat are bolded, so you know what I'm working with. Here's a couple of websites so you can do your own research: WebMD and Huffington Post.
And that's my story today, friends. Has anemia had an effect on your life or on the way you eat? Let me know in comments here, start a conversation on my facebook page, or please message me privately! I look forward to hearing from you.
My friend paused to take a breath, then went on to tell me that her family didn't really like lean ground pork, which is what she had thawed,
Because I'm creative in the kitchen- I like to play with combining non-traditional ingredients together- and I'm the only professional meal planner she knows, I was a good person to ask. I rattled off a list of the usual things I make with ground pork, and each answer was met with "my husband doesn't like that" or "my son won't eat that" or "my son and husband like that, but not my daughter", or some other variation along that theme. I suggested she try gradually getting them into ground pork by combining it with lean ground beef, to get them used to the flavour a little at a time, which is an option she'll definitely explore. Eventually she picked a random recipe from a cookbook because it sounded delicious. I bet almost everyone reading this can relate to the outcome- she liked it, but her family was more "meh".
Show of hands! Does this sound like a familiar story in your house? You're not alone. It happens in my house too, maybe not everyday, but often. My biggest critic is my second son, who at age 6 likes the idea of being an adventurous eater, but isn't so keen on putting it into practice.
As main meal makers, our job, to put it simply, is to decide what to make for dinner, and it's the job of your people to decide if they'll eat it or not. And that's it. We tend to feel responsible for the choices our people make. If they don't eat it, they'll be hungry...or they won't be healthy...or they'll binge on less than desirable options- but that's not on you, Meal Maker. That's on them.
Admittedly, it's hard to let go of that guilt. It's hard not to take it personally. As meal makers, we spend a ridiculous amount of time pondering the "what's for dinner" question. We agonize over which vegetable to serve or what protein to cook or if there are too many carbs in the meal. Is it nutritious enough? Or too processed? Will I be judged if I pop in a frozen pizza for my son's birthday party? It's hard to plan a meal, let alone a week or a month's worth of meals, without feeling the stress of that "but what if they don't like it?". There will be a few practical suggestions on dealing with this further along.
Sometimes not eating is an issue, especially when there are health related diagnoses in play. Both of my boys have been really, really picky, but it was my second son that had a health-related issue exacerbated by his refusal to eat. It wasn't a situation where "tough, then you'll be hungry" came into play, because that approach would have impacted his health more than just having a hungry tummy. In his case, we had to make sure there was a bedtime snack every night without fail. I made sure there was something on our dinner plates he liked eating, so he could enjoy eating dinner with us, and I would encourage him to try whatever it was that he was avoiding, but I didn't make a big deal out of it. One of the biggest lessons I've learned in parenting a couple of picky kids and being married to a somewhat picky husband is that food shouldn't be a fight. I grew up with food issues- I don't want my boys to be saddled with those same issues as adults.
Back to my friend. She's in a different place than I am. Her youngest child is the same age as my oldest, and her husband is substantially pickier than mine. But there are a few standard rules that always apply, no matter what the situation. Even when there are health related issues at play!
Picky kids are one thing, and I have a lot of sympathy for them. They are just beginning to learn about flavours and textures, what things feel like and taste like. I've got texture issues, myself. But picky adults are something else entirely- it's our job to demonstrate bravery and fortitude to the little people in our lives. A willingness to try new things expands far beyond our meal choices. Adults can decide to make changes to their food habits, too. It begins with a decision, and continues with conscious effort.
For example, before I was a mom, I wouldn't eat bananas that had freckles on them. Then I had a kid, and realized it was time to change that attitude. And freckled bananas are just fine, really. It took me a while to get used to them being a little softer and sweeter than I liked, but I didn't want a lifetime ahead of kids who wouldn't eat fruit if there was a little imperfection. Certain foods I know I don't like I actually keep trying periodically, such as blue cheese. I don't hate it as much as I used to. In fact, it's delicious when paired with certain foods...like steak- blue cheese butter with steak is amazing.
Another adult example for you, this time using my husband. I've been trying for the last 18 years to get him to eat eggs. There's a strong flavour in cooked eggs that he is hypersensitive to, and it's been hard for him to get over that. But in the interest of eating better and demonstrating to the kids that eggs aren't all bad, he's been working through that, trying them in different ways to see what he can handle eating. And I'm excited and delighted to tell you that last week he ate eggs for breakfast twice.
Bottom line, be patient with your picky people. Ultimately they need to decide they are willing to make that effort, but it probably wouldn't hurt if you lay it out for them with a conversation (not a lecture) about what it would mean to you. If you talk to your kids about food, lay it out in terms of nutrition, rather than "good" or "bad" foods. My feeling about food is "everything in moderation" - it's better to not assign labels to foods. Too much of a "good" food is still too much, and do we want our people to feel guilty for indulging in something we've assigned "bad" to?
One of the best ways to meal plan with picky people is to make it a family affair. Sit down with your family, and give them a list of what you want to get out of a meal- whether it's a variety of colourful fruit and vegetables, or whole grains rather than processed, or an assortment of proteins- and let them plan the meals with you. By engaging them in the process, they're taking ownership, and are more likely to actually eat what you prepare.
Another option is to sit down with your people and the family calendar, and assign everyone a night to be in charge of the meal. If they come up with pancakes, bacon, and fruit salad every time it's their turn, at least it's relatively balanced, you freed up your time to do something important for you, and there won't be any fights over what's on the dinner table.
You could also hire a meal planner, such as myself. My service includes a comprehensive questionnaire about food related goals, likes and dislikes, health issues, and so on. The stress of planning around picky eaters falls on my shoulders, rather than yours. I even include all the recipes and a grocery list- all you have to do is shop off the list and cook the meals I suggest.
What stresses you out in the kitchen? What service could I provide that would help you out the most? Do you have any suggestions to share that helped in a picky eater situation? Please feel free to comment!
If you enjoyed this post, please share it with your friends! You may also enjoy this post about body image, or this post about talking nutrition with kids.
And by the way, dinner tonight at my house is lean ground pork meatloaf muffins (doubling the recipe to stock my freezer), homemade vegetable soup, and (gasp) Kraft dinner. My kids have been asking for it, and I'm not opposed to shortcut meals from time to time.
It's been a pleasure, friends. All the best today,
Aww, I have the sweetest child in the world. My second son, AKA "the picky one" was so happy with dinner a couple of nights ago. He even told me he liked the little extra-lean ground turkey hamburgers I made "more than cookies" - that's high praise, coming from him. He really, really likes cookies. We don't have them too often, because we all really like cookies, if we're going to be honest. And he took a second helping! That has never happened at dinner before. He watched us happily finish our plates half full of vegetables and fruit, and ate up most of his too. We're still working on introducing fruit to his tastebuds. So far he acts like it tastes worse than children's anti-nausea medication. I mean, who doesn't like raspberries? Or oranges? Or grapes?
My second son's blood work confirmed he's marching towards anemia, so I've been working hard at providing foods I know he'll eat, a little less experimentation and test-kitchen projects. I'm fortunate that he likes meat- mostly ground cuts, but he also enjoys other kinds, if he's in the right mood. And because he'll eat anything if it's in soup, it looks like we're heading into soup season. Last night's dinner was vegetable and pork soup with navy beans. He gobbled it up. Luckily for us, we're not stuck in a perpetual heat wave like Southern California is, otherwise eating soup for dinner a couple of times a week would feel like a trial. Because it's almost winter here, soup is a comforting and welcome meal.
What have you been doing this week? I was fighting a cold and lack of sleep over the Thanksgiving weekend, so most of my week was spent catching up (still) on our California holiday laundry and housework, with generous room for naps, yoga, physiotherapy, coffee dates, and a car appointment. I found some time to follow rabbit trails on the internet this week regarding food and nutrition, and discovered this really interesting article about how France is introducing legislation to prevent supermarkets from deliberately spoiling foods. I am hopeful and optimistic that this sort of thing will come to North America, and soon.
I know I promised some school lunch posts. I'm working on photographing my favorites, and should have a post on that done by the end of October. What kinds of things are you putting in your lunches this year? Are you finding most of the food coming home, uneaten? Most of the meals I sent to school with both kids came home, so our lunches are a lot more lean than they were at the beginning of the school year.
This was a lunch I packed at the beginning of September for my second son, who's in grade 1. He likes all kinds of bread, so the pita bread was gone. He ate half the apples, a few carrots, and brought home the yogurt, because he decided he doesn't like it anymore.
Today he took a slim hamburger bun (the kind I use for my egg breakfast sandwiches), about 4 carrots, and a cheese string. It will be eaten in his 20 minute allotment. He'll come home from school ravenous, and eat a peanut butter sandwich and some apple slices, and then we'll eat dinner not too long after that.
My favorite school lunches are the ones that kids will eat! There a few exceptions, though. I won't buy "lunchables", those processed bento-box type meals, though on occasion will send to school a similar sort of homemade lunch. My first son was terribly picky too, so his lunches were also bare boned basics. Having gone through the picky kid thing before, though, I know my second will come around by the time he's out of elementary school, too.
More posts to follow soon, including the one I promised on school lunches, and on a great pizzeria we discovered just down from our hotel in Anaheim. I was sorting through my pictures and realized I forgot to tell you all about it!
All the best to you today, and this weekend, friends.
My kids are adorable. I mean, seriously, completely adorable. Some days I look at them and wonder how they got to be so amazing. But in today's digital reality world, with a plethora of games, devices, movies, and so on, there isn't a whole lot of enthusiasm when I say the words "Go outside and play!" So while they are at a healthy weight and body type now, I know it's going to be tricky to keep them healthy as they continue to age in such a sedentary world. Both diet and activity levels are important, and while we're taking steps to mitigate the lack of activity, we also have to address their diets while they are young. And our vigilance can be never-ending. This digital age isn't going anywhere. The kids know more about my phone than I do, and in school they use electronic tools I hadn't even heard of before, like "smart boards". Each grade 6 student had a Chromebook to use for the school year, and I think tablets (or iPad's?) were used every day in kindergarten.
For me, the most important reason to eat nutritious food is to have a healthy life. I have conversations with the kids that focus on the various health-related aspects of nutrition, such as strong and straight bones, a brain that's fast and able to learn, muscles to help us do all the fun things we like to do. We talk about how every food has different vitamins and minerals, and the point to eating a "balanced diet" is to get as much good stuff into our bodies as possible.
My first son is at a complicated age. He's at that awkward place between child and teen. Boys aren't immune to body image issues, and unfortunately the word "diet" has negative connotations, such as being fat and needing to lose weight. The very last thing I want is for him to think that I think he needs to lose weight, or worse, for him to think badly of his body. So we focus on the quality of food, and we focus on the quantity. Nothing is off limits in our house. I personally remember smuggling "off limits" food into the house when I was a teenager, and hiding it or binge eating after an emotional day. I don't want the kids to feel like they have to hide what they're eating.
If the bulk of our food choices has a high nutritional component, I won't say no if asked for something less quality. I will monitor quantity, however, of both healthy and junk, because too much of anything is still too much.
My second son is also complicated right now, because he's picky. He will eat more now than he did a year ago, but I wouldn't say he's a great eater at this time. Our conversations about food happen almost every day. He's had a summer cold, so his usual favorite foods were pushed aside when his taste buds went funny from the cold. The thing is, he has very few favorite fruits, and when he starts to turn up his nose at any of them we have a problem. When he pushed away his apple slices we had a conversation that went something like this:
Child: I don't like apples anymore.
Me: Ok. What new fruit will you try instead? We have grapes, cherries, kiwi, oranges, strawberries, and blueberries,
Child: I don't want to try any of those.
Me: I know, but if you won't eat apples, you need to pick something else. Fruit has lots of nutrition, remember?
Child: <long sigh> Fine, I'll just eat my apples.
It isn't that my son isn't exposed to new foods every single day. He's just very, very stubborn. I won't let food fights happen, but I won't give an inch either, in allowing entire food groups to be discarded. He was eating cheerios for a snack the other day and asked if it was a balanced meal. We talked about what it means when I say "balanced". I explained that cheerios are a grain product, and they are an excellent source of iron, which helps your blood carry oxygen through your body. To make it a balanced snack, we needed to add in other food groups, such as dairy- and I gave him a glass of milk- and fruit or vegetable- and he got some cucumber slices.
When I was a kid, I hated the "because I said so" response when I would ask "why". I think it's important to teach kids now, before food and health issues typically start, so that they have actual facts at hand when they navigate the waters of adolescence. There's no shortage of advertising designed to make us feel badly about ourselves, and the more tools in our arsenal the better.
For the summer, whenever possible, I've got a meal and snack plan set up for the entire day, not just dinner. I'm finding that the kids are feeling more satisfied and asking less often "What can I eat, I'm hungry". If you'd like me to post it, let me know.
Enjoy the day, friends.
This was a meal my second son ate for lunch last week, half one day, and half the next. Those are lean ground turkey asian-flavour meatballs with peaches and cream frozen corn and raw carrots. This is a very big deal, and let me tell you why.
Right around the age of 2 he became very picky, and about this time a year ago I was despairing about kindergarten snacks for the coming fall. The only thing my son thought was an acceptable lunch was a peanut butter sandwich and a glass of apple juice. The only acceptable snack was some variation of the same. Because I gave him a bit of a granny smith apple once, he'd decided he didn't like apples anymore, which meant fruit was off the menu. He ate very limited vegetables, and drank water only when he was playing soccer.
I kept offering healthy old and new foods. One time I was even desperate enough to cut his apples into heart shapes while I reminded him that he liked red apples, not green ones, and he gave apples a second chance. Somewhere along the way I came up with a phrase that somehow made him more likely to try anything: "You don't have to like it".
Over the last year it's been a constant upward trend. Sure, there are foods he used to love that he no longer will touch, such as vanilla yogurt and roasted potatoes. On the other hand, last night he tried a bite of steak. He didn't like it, and my response was "that's ok, maybe next time". I didn't force him to try it, but I think in getting permission not to have to enjoy it makes him braver.
He eats what we eat. There's always something on the menu that he likes, so he never feels left out of dinner. Whether it's raw carrots, apple slices, whole grain bread, actifry potato strips (we call them fries), chicken, fish, ham, or soup, he will find something he enjoys eating with the rest of us. If he wants seconds, he gets them. And if he doesn't, that's ok too. I have never wanted food to become a battle with the kids, because I know what kind of future challenges ensue between food and body image.
I'm teaching the boys why we eat the way we eat. They are learning about food energy, exercise, proper nutrition, and healthy bodies. They know about the different vitamins and minerals found in different kinds of foods. They are learning that different colours in food mean different benefits, and that a balanced meal consists of several food groups.
There are so many strategies employed when dealing with picky children. Most of the kids I know are picky at one time or another, and some of them grow up to be picky adults too. My goal is to raise the boys to appreciate and enjoy good and healthy food, and to not be scared to try something new.
I found this interesting article about different mistakes we as parents tend to make when dealing with children and food. It's worth the read, and I know I've been guilty from time to time of making some of these mistakes.
Enjoy your weekend, friends!
I'm on a mission to make eggs my husband likes. He finds cooked eggs inedible, but they're such an inexpensive and healthy form of protein I'd really like to change his mind. He loves the flavours found in salsa and santa-fe type of seasoning, so I'm working at developing spice blends to work with that flavour, and juggling the amount of egg, milk, and vegetables cooked together.
Do you have any tried and true recipes with this flavour profile in mind you can lead me to?
Have you ever wondered how many servings of anything you should try to get your kids to consume in a day? Or what constitutes a serving? It's especially hard when you are serving something like soup, which my picky second son enjoys the most.
As a mom, I wonder about the best way to figure out if they're eating enough, or too much? Both kids from time to time seem to be constantly hungry, or full way too soon. I wonder if they're being creative at evading a meal that isn't their favorite by claiming they're full, or if they've actually had enough. I won't force them to finish what's on their plate- I figure it's their job to decide that they're done, and I don't want to plague them with a lifetime of overeating and related health problems. On the other hand, sometimes they seem to be hungry ridiculously close to the end of the last meal.
Enter the Canada Food Guide. I'm sure it's not perfect, and not without its' share of controversy, but this is a resource I turn to often, and as I am the meals maven, it's a very handy and useful resource to look to.
As an example in how to use this guide, I will think about how my second son ate today. His recommended foods are:
5 servings of vegetables and fruit
4 servings of grain products
2 servings of milk products
1 serving of protein.
Allow me to stop right here and tell you today was an atypical day. My fruit, veges, and dairy are getting low, so I'm definitely shopping tomorrow. I can tell you he ate more than enough grain products and (surprisingly, since peanut butter counts) protein. He only ate half the vegetables and fruits, mostly in the form of watered down juice. He had only about half his milk products today as well.
What constitutes a serving? Let's focus on fruit and vegetables, since most of us don't get or give enough. In his case, for vegetables and fruits he typically eats carrots and apples every day. A serving of those is about a half-cup each. Our apples this week are small, so I treat an apple as one serving, and a carrot cut up into strips or coins as about a half cup. Keep in mind, he needs 5 servings a day, so if we serve fruit or vegetables with every snack and meal, he meets his recommended servings.
A typical daily meal plan for him is this (don't judge me! He's so picky! I know he eats a lot of nutella!)
Breakfast: 1/2 c. milk + 1 slice of bread with nutella on it + 1 apple
Snack: 1/2 c, yogurt + carrot sticks and a water cup
Lunch: 1/2 c. of watered down apple juice + 1 slice of bread with peanut butter on it
Snack: Cheese String + carrot sticks or apple slices and a water cup
Dinner: whatever we're having
Bedtime snack: 1/2 c. milk + 1 slice of bread with nutella on it
I try once or twice a week to cook for dinner whatever he will eat, and the rest of the time cook whatever we all want to eat. Most of the time he'll at least take a taste, which is all I can ask for at this stage, and way better than he used to be. Dinner always includes vegetables and/or fruit as half our plate (his plate is divided), a small section for protein, and a slightly larger section for carbs. What he drinks for dinner is often water, but sometimes, if we're eating something with a high iron content, such as beef and bean chili, we'll serve dinner with juice so that the iron can be better absorbed with the added vitamin c.
If you don't feel like looking up what you should eat, here's what I should eat as a woman of almost 40. Feel free to compare your needs to mine. It's probably similar, as there are not that many changes in this age range until you hit 51. Men require 1 or 2 extra vegetable/fruit, grain, and protein serving.
Vegetables and Fruits: 8-10
If you're anything like me, chances are good you look at your prepared chicken thighs and wonder how many of those you should eat. The nutritional information on the back of the package gives you the 100g serving information, but it turns out that the Canada Food Guide says 75g is one serving. So how do you tell?
I make heavy use of our kitchen scale. I know, it sounds so geeky, but that's the only real way to tell, and I did marry a geek. Our eyeballs and stomachs usually tell us to eat more than we should, especially if it's really tasty and pretty. If you are serious about watching what you eat, you should definitely invest in one of these handy kitchen gadgets.
The other thing you can do is to input your recipe (exact amounts matter though, so take a picture of your packaging and nutritional info before you toss it) into My Fitness Pal. This website has a great recipe builder section where your favorite recipes can be stored, and you can just enter your recipe in your daily meal tracking. This also really helps keep track of where you're at in the day, so you can tell after dinner if you should splurge on something or just stick to apples and carrots.
Good luck to you as you navigate this tricky world of nutrition. Let me know what you're doing to figure out nutritional needs for your family, and how your meals compare to mine!
THIS beautiful thing was dinner tonight, half of a 2-part cook-ahead meal plan for this week. Stay tuned for details! When I've completed my meal with the second half of the meat I will post recipes and pictures.
The very best moment during dinner tonight is that my picky second son, even while balking at a first taste, came back to eat the rest of his first slider, and asked if he could take the second one to school for snack tomorrow. Victory!